Borders MMR uptake higher than Scottish average

Tim Paterson NHS borders
Tim Paterson NHS borders

IN the same week that the Scottish Government has written to NHS boards across Scotland to reiterate the importance of school nurses checking the MMR vaccination status of youngsters, NHS Borders has revealed that the takeup of the jab in the region is higher than the national average.

The letter from the Chief Medical Officer was penned in light of statistics showing that measles is re-emerging in mainland Europe and an assessment of risk of measles in Scotland carried out by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

Childhood MMR uptake in the Borders stood at 97.2 per cent for the quarter ending June 2011, compared to 96.4 per cent in Scotland as a whole for the same period.

Both results were significantly higher than the English MMR uptake rate of 92.3 per cent for under-fives.

As well as toddlers continuing to receive their jabs, children presenting themselves for their teenage booster, typically in the third year of secondary school around the age of 14, who still require one or two doses of MMR will be offered the additional vaccination.

It is hoped these measure will diminish the current and future risks of measles transmission during adolescence and early adulthood.

Dr Tim Patterson, Consultant in Public Health with NHS Borders said: “While uptake of the MMR vaccine in the Borders is very high we recognise there may be some young people in school who were not vaccinated when they were younger and who are potentially susceptible to measles as a result.

“In order to lessen the risk of future measles transmission it is prudent for school nurses to check the MMR status of children presenting themselves for their teenage booster.

“The Board will be implementing this development through the school nursing service in the near future.”

The letter from the Chief Medical Officer also reiterates the importance of vaccinating NHS staff against measles and Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “While uptake of the MMR vaccine in Scotland is very high we recognise there will be some young people in school who were not vaccinated when they were younger and who are potentially susceptible to measles as a result. In order to lessen the risk of future measles transmission it is prudent for school nurses to check the MMR status of children presenting themselves for their teenage booster.

“While it is entirely optional anyone still requiring one or two doses should be given the opportunity to receive further vaccine, which will help us increase uptake and reduce measles susceptibility.”